The first day of Lifeis+ is here, and this month I’ve got a lot of things on my mind. If you’re unfamiliar with Lifeis+, I don’t blame you. Last year when I ran this campaign I barely ran it and allowed myself to split through the cracks of my own creation and fall to the side of my own project. What was supposed to be a grand even fizzled out in a less than remarkable display, but I’ve made it a point to stop bringing up the past when unnecessary, so because of that, I will consider everyone reading right now uninitiated, and break it down for you.
Do you remember Mean for the Holidays? That two-week long campaign I ran through in December? Lifeos+ is similar, but just slightly different, because I want to talk to you on a personal level about the way we change and grow, and I want, for my birthday, to remind everyone who reads what I write this month, that life is not meant to be awful.
As such, I’ve prepared a handful of pieces that I will be releasing, some poetry, some writing, some short stories and above all a question to each of you.
What does it mean to be a king?
for more information on the specifics of Lifeis+ 2019, I’ll redirect you to my website, where you can see the projected release schedule.
I’m excited to be alive for another year, and I hope you’ll celebrate with me.
Matthew 6:1-4, ESV
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Biblically we are called to something that has weighed on my mind heavily going into the beginning of this year, giving. Many churches, especially larger ones run campaigns for the congregation to give extra toward some common goal. Aid for the homeless, distribution of water, church planting etc.
I’ve had my fair share of time spent being uncharitable. A venerated tithe consumer I would rather have held my money owed within my own two palms as I justified it, I didn’t know where my money would be going if I chose to donate it. This, a plague of ideology. All too often today we see huge “non-profit” organizations whose creators and owners are swindling the bright hearts who seek to send their financial blessings into the air for another to use. Of course, I’m not suggesting that the creator of such a group should go without money or food simply because of their own desire to fulfill a gap in society, but on the same note I wonder if we all behaved with the same admonition of guilt, would we live in a society that was brighter and better overall?
More to the point, would our free giving be so? Truly free of object idealization and pride. Would we be able to take money from our pockets and pass it along into a donation plate with nothing else inside our hearts but the knowledge that our righteousness, which is so difficult to keep in mind, would burnish our copper hide until we shined on the church pews?
I ask this, because I’ve been considering charity. This year I made it a point to give more than I have in years before. It was likely a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to remind me that I should continue to live in the ways I so often talk about. Kindness can take many forms, and it is easy to see our kindness and our generosity evolve and be disrupted by the deadly embrace of pride.
Our pride in how much we offer to those in need is a killing sting, unlike many others, because it refuses to offer a quick death. It is slow and painful, but it comes quickly and when the poison has seeped into our blood, we barely notice it until we have offered up what we have and shown all of our friends with big smiles on our face at the Christmas party.
“I donated $153K this year. It was so wonderful to give that much, I am blessed to have the money to afford it.”
It’s a dangerous line to walk because the Bible itself says to give quietly and with kindness. If you were to give hundreds of thousands, as an individual or an organization, it should be done in silence and without knowing. It’s an important distinction because openly declaring that your organization was capable of donating a grand sum of money comes with a heavy burden presented to those who couldn’t muster the large numbers that your church or civic group could offer.
Perhaps, the small church up the road who can barely maintain their building couldn’t donate as much. The notion would sneak into their minds and drag at them over time, the paralyzing toxin of pride seeping through the congregation and making all of them wonder…
“I couldn’t bear to donate more, I would starve.”
It’s something that I’ve been considering while analyzing that verse in particular. Like most effects from the bible, I’ve wondered why it is stated as such. At first glance, it seems vain to hide our donation amounts. My father is one character in particular who I’ve always questioned. The morning he takes his donation to the church, he wraps it up and packages it within an envelope, refraining from telling me how much it is despite my incessant curiosity. When the tithing plate is passed to him, he places said envelope in the dish and says no more. I once questioned him about the nature of his giving, wouldn’t he want others to see how much he offered, so that they would be inspired to offer more?
“Son,” he told me, “That isn’t how it works. If I give $100, and the next family beside me can only offer $10, wouldn’t you think that would hurt their feelings?”
In my youth, like most things, it was difficult to understand. But as I sit in my row as an adult, looking around at the congregation with an envelope in hand, I think back on that lesson he taught me so long ago.
We aren’t meant to share what we give, because we do not all give equally. It brings me to the story of The Widow’s Offering.
Mark 12:41-44, NIV
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
When I give now, I consider this story often. I know that I am not giving all I have to live on, and I think of those who do. Whoever they might be, I don’t want to know. But I know they are out there, and that is enough for me.
I wonder if my donation could be increased sometimes, and I wonder more if I can sit from my seat in the back of the church and give that extra with quiet kindness, unwilling to remark on my donation because it needs not be spoken about.
I wonder about a great many things.
But regarding our offerings, there are things I don’t have to wonder about. I choose to give what I choose to give, and the tally marks of my donations matter to no one but the Lord, and He knows what I’ve chosen to offer. The rest of the congregation, or especially, the city, need not know the cents that I offer to my God.
And I need not know theirs, because the ultimate downfall of your offering comes when you drop your check off to the donation box and take a photo of the check with every penny tallied and brag about what you have given. Even with good intentions, you’ve taken the act of giving and made it prideful and disdainful.
But even the charity of others can lead to the pride of myself.
“I donate in secret, and no one knows what I offer, therefore I am better.”
I fell to this trap myself only recently, seeing the bravado of a large donation being aired on social media I felt called to write this piece in objection. The group needs not be named, because as soon as I saw it, I swelled up with pride of my own. Only realizing upon the writing of this that I was haughty with it. Pride, like oozing sores on my heart I sat down to tear apart what I had seen, don’t misunderstand I am still frustrated by it, but in all things, we must be vigilant and we must react with humility as often as we can.
Romans 12:16, ESV
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
I never claimed to be wise, but I behave as such so often. I am working to be better and I am still learning. Do not let this world tear you from your goodness but live that goodness with grace and live that grace with excitement when necessary. Be enamored by your compassion and your kindness. Those gifts are given to us by God, and in the event that you find yourself in a position such as mine, remember to give to the Lord quietly, and react to all things with patience, and more importantly, exhibit the same grace that we were given when you witness the pride of others, or perhaps more importantly…
When you find pride within yourself.
I’ve openly spoken about my faith for some time, but as the years have passed by there has been a growing seed within me that has called me to speak about it more, to shed some light on why I believe what I believe, and to hopefully quell bitter speak about it as best I can, to perhaps, share the things that have given me so much joy over the years along with it.
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this, and I encourage you to speak up. If you have questions or comments regarding my writing I’d love to hear it. I want to know what you know.
A share wouldn’t be awful, either. 😉
I’ll see you Sunday with a new page in the Grimoire of Finality. ❤
Until then, be sure to check out the website to see all of what is coming.
I’m turning 26 this year, let’s party.
Categories: Umbral Dawning